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Golf Barometer: British Open Predictions

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

It's the British Open or just The Open, depending on where you're coming from. Let's talk about some players, make some projections.

Lee Westwood:
With all due respect to Luke Donald, maybe Westwood's the best player without a major. The off weather won't bother Westwood at all, and he's an angelic ball striker. The putting issue? It's not as big a deal on this sort of track, especially if the course softens up. The timing is right. Projection: Win.

Justin Rose:
Although we met this wunderkind in his teens, he hasn't been subject to the hype (and disappointment) that was put at the feet of Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia. A breakthrough in the early 30s (Rose is 32) would make sense. He's one of the best iron players in the world and always seems calm, in balance. That matters on this type of test. Projection: T5.

Tiger Woods:
Although he's won the Open three times, he's also had plenty of no-shows: seven times he'd finished outside of the Top 20. His last Top 10 overseas came in 2006. It doesn't mean Woods can't win this week, but let's not bother engraving anything until Sunday. If the weather is unfair to Tiger here and there - and that's what you get at the third major - can Woods brush it off and move on? He didn't have that sort of resolve at the U.S. Open. Projection: T17.

Sergio Garcia:
I was tempted to pick him as a pesudo-sleeper pick until I saw Garcia paired with Woods for the first two rounds. Forget it now. I'd love to be wrong, but this isn't how Garcia's first major is likely to play out. He needs to come from out of the weeds. This week, he'll be in the fescue. Projection: Outside Top 30.

Phil Mickelson:
His T2 run last year came out of nowhere - Mickelson had just one run at contention at the British Open (a third-place finish) over his first 17 tries. Form doesn't always matter with Lefty, but the way he's been spraying the ball lately I wouldn't pick him to win the Bushwood Caddy Tournament. Maybe we'll come back to him in August. Projection: Outside Top 30.

Jim Furyk:
A hit-or-miss career at the British - he's collected five Top 10s here (four in the Top 5), but he's also missed the cut six times. Is there a scar from the late collapse in San Francisco? Projection: Outside Top 30.

Dustin Johnson:
Although he's a long-hitting American, he has the type of game that works on the Euro circuit. Johnson's also proven to be a decent player in poor weather. His death-grip putter would be more of a hurdle in the States. Projection: T12.

Ernie Els:
He was the man to beat at this event for so many years, and he's started to have that gleam in his eye recently. But where is Ernie's bunker play? It's been a problem for several seasons now, no matter that Paul Azinger has yet to notice. I'd love to make a Cinderella pick here but the head overrules - too much sand on this track. Projection: T25.

Zach Johnson:
Sure, it's hard to win two tournaments in a row, but it's hard to win one in a row, period. I'm more concerned that Johnson had to travel overseas Sunday night; he'll have limited time to adjust to the clock and the culture change. That will keep him out of the hunt this week. Projection: Outside Top 30.

Rory McIlroy:
It sure is fun being famous, but sometimes it gets in the way of your golf game. He'll have a lot to talk about with Bubba Watson. Projection: T25.

Luke Donald:
I'm done picking him and expecting big things in big events. Maybe Donald has Colin Montgomerie Disease - he simply wants it too much. And why can't Donald play well on Day 1 of a major? No one wins the tournament on a Thursday, but you can obviously take yourself out of the running. His magnificent putter won't help as much here as it would on a fast track. Projection: Outside Top 30.

Bubba Watson:
He's taken his foot off the accelerator since the Masters win (and he's also welcomed a baby into the world). Nothing wrong with being a well-rounded chap, but he's nowhere near the sharp form you need to win this type of event. Projection: Missed cut.

Jason Dufner:
He's yet to make a British Open cut in two tries, but given the graduation we've seen from Dufner this year, maybe that history doesn't matter. This year he learns how to dog paddle, next year he goes for a full swim. Projection: T25.

Ian Poulter:
It's the type of international challenge he gets up for, and he'll love it if the weather gets nasty early. There's nothing from the recent form to point to Poulter, and that might be in his favor, too. Projection: Top 15.

John Daly:
His putting looks sharp, and he's always known how to manage a British Open course. Don't laugh, he'll probably play all four days. But one bad round will take him out of contention. Projection: Top 15 for two days, finishes outside Top 30.